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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Sonochemical reactor design based on electrostatic film transducers Bolleman, Brent John


Sonochemistry is a relatively new field of chemistry which uses intense sound energy to influence chemical reactions. Laboratory investigations have indicated that a number of commercially important chemical processes can be improved by sonochemistry techniques. However, there does not appear to be any sonochemical reactor designs which are feasible for use at the industrial scale. All the reactor designs proposed thus far utilize piezoelectric or magnetostrictive transducers for generating the sound energy. These transducers are widely used for other sound applications, but their properties make construction of an industrial-scale sonochemical reactor complex and expensive. A new sonochemical reactor design based on electrostatic film transducers is introduced here which may present a breakthrough in the economic feasibility of industrial sonochemical processing. A working prototype of this reactor was not achieved because the maximum sound pressure which could be obtained from simple electrostatic film transducer prototypes was only a fraction of that required for cavitation. An acoustic model of the reactor was developed and experimentally confirmed which showed that the reactor sound pressure was limited primarily by excessive damping in the transducer. Commercialization of this technology will first require the construction of a high-pressure electrostatic film transducer with minimal damping. This could then be followed by lab-scale reactor manufacture, pilot plant evaluations, and finally industrial-scale implementation.

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